Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sloppy Janes - Pressed Sandwich Recipe

Well after that Artisan Bread post last night, I wanted to see how the bread would grill up, so when The Hero requested Sloppy Janes, a sandwich favorite around here, I thought it was a brilliant idea and got right to work. We first had a Sloppy Jane at the Tilted Kilt, but TK is very far from where we live in the city, and if I'm going to drive 30 minutes for a dinner joint, I'm going to choose one that's a. not a chain, b. a bit classier. (sorry, TK, but you're not serving much class. Fun place, though, I'll give you that! And good pub chips.) So anyway, we've taken to making them at home. I've toyed with our version of the recipe a bit, but always was just a touch unhappy with the result, until last night! They were absolutely perfect. I think part of the reason was that I didn't make a traditional coleslaw to put on them, I grilled the carrots and cabbage into the sandwich fresh, and let the dressing do a little impromptu pickling while it was grilling up. The taste, texture, and flavor combo was divine. So anyway, if you're looking to spice up your grilled sandwich go tos, this is your post:

Sloppy Janes
  • Smoked Turkey Breast (preferably the whole breast, to be shaved or sliced by you at home, it's more flavorful and moist that way, and way healthier, we like Koch's Brand Smoked Turkey.) 
  • Cabbage, sliced very thin
  • Carrots, grated
  • Swiss Cheese (though I've used Jack and Cheddar and been happy with either of those too!)
  • Thousand Island Dressing
  • A good crusty bread that caramelizes well when grilled up. The Artisan Bread recipe worked fantastically for us! 
  • A press grill, pannini press, George Foreman, waffle iron, or skillet and weight, like a bacon weight
Shave up your turkey, the thinner, the better, and slice your cheese thickly. Layer your sandwich like this:

a modest smear of Thousand Island

Pop it just like this into the hot press (or skillet on medium/medium low) and really press it down to compress the ingredients. You want the cheese to melt slowly so the veggies cook just a bit and the bread has time to caramelize without any oil or butter!! That's not a health request, that's to make sure your sandwich stays together, so follow it! Flip your sandwich halfway through, and give it a half rotation to make sure it cooks evenly. This way the dressing is on top for the last part of the cook time, and it isn't making your bottom bread soggy. When it's grilled to perfection and the cheese is super melty, remove to a cutting board and let it rest before slicing in half to serve. We like it with sweet potato fries or a hearty soup, last night we had pan fried sweet potatoes with a maple and allspice glaze. :) Goes great with a summery beer as well, now that I'm thinking about it, I'm a bit sad we didn't have any Marzen last night, that would have been a good compliment.

Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

PinterTested - Artisan Bread


This is the first in what will hopefully be a series of  "PinterTests", where I will actually attempt things from pinterest and report back my findings. Can a real person do these things? How easy was it? Was it any good, or did it just photograph well? Should it be done again? (Also, let's all ooooh and ahhhh over my fun new template above for sharing the original pin and my own test run.....oooooooohhhh! Ahhhhhhh!)

So this week I tested a pin I've seen floating around a lot: Artisan Bread, a no-knead, long rise, traditional style wheat flour bread. It's key is a long overnight rise with very little yeast. I wasn't hopeful, because while I've been baking bread for years and my loaves are usually what one might describe as "edible" and sometimes even "tasty", I'm enough of a bread snob to tell you that the cell structure was horrid, and I was always overkneading, or underkneading, or letting rise too long, or not rising long enough, and even if a beautiful puffy loaf went in the oven, a floppy and deflated loaf came out. I wanted the pretty, lofty, strudy bread, one I could smear with toppings and grill and it would stay together, not one that crumbled upon slicing. This recipe totally came through for me!

The original pin led to this recipe on the Frugal Living NW page, where she describes an adaptation of another recipe. I followed her instructions to a tee, and even did this first batch with all bread flour, though we're whole wheat people in this house, so next week I'll try that. I don't have a cast iron dutch oven, (I know, it's pretty shocking. You can be ashamed of me, go ahead, I won't mind) but being a good New Mexico girl I do have a large pyrex tamale pot, so I used it and got a wonderful result. So easy, no fuss. My dough even stuck to my well-floured (aparently not well enough) towel, and I had to wrestle it to get in the hot pot, so I thought for sure this loaf was a goner after the abuse I put it through. To my surprise, it puffed up beatifully anyway and formed those great cracks that a loaf of this nature has. In the image, the OP is on the bottom left and my loaf, sliced, is on the top right.

Cost Effectiveness: 10/10 - you can't beat the cost of making your own bread, pennies on the dollar

Easy Factor: 8/10 - Yeast breads can and are intimidating, this is as easy as a good one's going to get!

Taste: 7/10 - I think I need to bump up the salt next time, it came out blah-ish, but I'm also used to a hearty whole grain and went with white this time, so maybe that's contributing? Otherwise, outstanding, and the texture's divine.

Time Consuming: 8/10 - Yes and no, you really don't have to spend much time doing anything to the loaf, but you must have the time to wait for the 12-18 hour rise and the 3 hour process for the second rise and bake. If you have other house things to do, or sleep to be had, it's not really time consuming at all, but it's not fast!

Overall Rating: 9/10 - This is a fantastic bread, I may never make another again. (well, except for Challah, can't really beat that stuff!) Way to come through in a big way on this one, Pinterest!

If you'd like to follow me on Pinterest, you can find me here:

If you'd like to suggest a Pin to be PinterTested by yours truly, please email, comment, or leave a message on the facebook page:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Diaper Conversion - DIY

You may remember from previous posts that we use cloth diapers. I've absolutely loved them, but as time wears on and parts wear out, some age better than others, namely, our snap fastened dipes hold together much much better than our aplix (a generic term for "velcro") fastened ones. Some of our velcro fasteners are aging and not sticking to each other as well, and this seems to pair really poorly with our genital-fascinated toddler, who found the aging velcro pretty easy to remove for some good old fashioned nudity. Now this is all fine and good sometimes, but other times, I want that diaper to stay ON! Not wanting the money we spent on the diapers to go to waste, I set out to find an inexpensive and easy way to make them stick better. I settled on our favorite: snaps! I looked at all the snap diapers we own, what I like best about them and how they're put together, and got a good idea for how I wanted to proceed. Observations will build a foundation for success, so spend a lot of time looking! Next, I got some coupons, bought my snap press and some size 20 snaps, and got to work. Here's the step by step:

DIY: Convert Aplix Diapers/Covers to Snaps

  •  Diaper or cover to be converted
  •  Size 20 Plastic Snaps 
  •  Snap Press
  •  Sharp Awl
  •  Seam Ripper
  •  Marker or Dressmaker's Pen(cil)
  •  Ruler
1. Use the seam ripper to gently remove the old aplix and the leftover threads from it's application, it should not affect the structure of the diaper. Be careful not to rip into the waterproofing layer (PUL) below the aplix, you don't want a new leak because of a mistake!

2. Measure your diaper tabs and the front where you want them to adhere. Figure out a good ratio of space apart for your snaps. I picked 2cm apart, based on the size of my tabs, the narrowest part I'd be working with. Decide how many sizes you want, and space them appropriately, familiarity with multi-size snap diapers will come in handy here. I wanted this diaper to work for newborn sizes too, so I added some female snaps to one tab as well, you'll see in the finished photos.

3.Mark carefully and measure each time you mark. remember that your snaps are bigger than the dots marking them, so space accordingly. Take your time on this part, it'll pay off in the end.

4.Use the sharp awl to poke a hole at each mark. Go all the way to the end of the awl and back through, creating a spot for the snap backing (the tack-looking part) to rest securely in the fabric.

5. Press a snap backing all the way through from the "wrong" side of the fabric, relative to the business end of the snap. For female snaps, the backing goes on the inside of the diaper, for male snaps, it goes on the outside. Double check before pressing!

6. Place the proper male or female snap plate onto the backing post, like the back of an earring.

7. Carefully place the "snap sandwich" with the fabric in the middle into the cup of the press machine, with the post sticking up and the whole thing centered well. Press down firmly, but you don't need to powerhouse it, it's made to do this! You can see in the photos to the left what a male snap looks like before and after pressing side by side on the diaper tap.

8. Continue to press the snaps. You may want to start with the male snaps first and leave all the female snaps for the end, as you'll probably be using less male snaps. You don't want to get them confused! Just be sure to work slowly and check your work as you go.

That's it! That's the whole thing! There are variations, of course, depending on the type of diaper you're converting and how much you want to do with it. You could use the seam ripper to open the layers of a cover if it has layers, and "hide" the snap backs inside, stitching it up when you're done. If the place you want to put snaps is only one layer of fabric thick, I recommend adding a second layer of fabric to reinforce the snaps as they pull, you don't want a stress hole in the diaper! As you can see in the final three pictures, I chose 8 size points, for a total of 16 female snaps and 4 male snaps. The next to last photo is the finished product sized for a toddler and the final photo is sized for a newborn. I hope the post is of some use to you! I plan to get a lot more life out of these diapers!